Over the summer, the Justice Select Committee of the House of Commons published its report into the post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Evidence was received from various interested parties: public authorities, the Information Commissioner's Office, campaign groups and a range of other stake-holders. The Committee concluded that the Act was generally working well but that some specific issues needed to be addressed (which we shall pick up in further posts). The Act was found to be meeting its principal objectives of improving transparency, openness and accountability (with varying degrees of success given the range of public authorities covered by the Act). However, the Act was not thought to have achieved its secondary objective of enhancing public confidence in government. The Committee did not consider that the legislation adversely impacted the ability of bodies to conduct business in the public service and that the benefits outweighed the additional burdens. In this regard, the Committee reasserted that the right to access information held by public authorities is an important constitutional right. As to the timing of any changes, we shall have to wait a further announcement from the Ministry of Justice, although the government Minister Lord Henley, in responding to questions during the passage of the Protection of Freedoms Bill earlier in the year, promised that any appropriate changes would be made as soon as possible...
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Freedom of information: the scales of justice.
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